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From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom... A common man's journey
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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Life happens to us while we are planning for it

I am not sure if you have ever experienced it, but I am experiencing it more often nowadays. With all goals, dreams being chased - the next one being bigger and larger than the previous best - we seem to be ignoring one critical aspect of life...the 'Present'

I was gasping for breath, and looking at my watch. There was numbness in my feet and haziness in my vision, but I was desperately searching for those set of figures in my watch  - figures which could tell me if I have done it !!

2:21:03 !!

Yes 2 hours, 21 minutes and 3 seconds. I just beat my previous life time personal best of 2:41:12. Not only I just clocked my personal best, I beat it by 20+ minutes - no mean achievement by any standards. 

All the last 6 months of hard work, commitment, dedication and focus bore its fruit today. I was limping but smiling. The pain was there, but it was not hurting. The numbness was infact giving me a sense of pride. I dragged myself towards the refreshment stall as I was basking in my own glory. 

Not that I had broken any sort of world record in the just concluded Airtel Delhi Half Marathon held on 29th November 2015, but for those who have some idea about long distance running, these runs are rarely undertaken to beat someone else's record. These runs are there to break your own records, to beat the clock - as they say.

Gleefully, I came home that day, uploaded my pic along with my record timing on Facebook. Everyone applauded the effort and the results
(Watch this Video to understand that only efforts is what we control--> http://elevate-your-life.blogspot.com/2014/11/video-you-can-only-make-efforts.html). 
Congratulatory notes started to flow in from all corners. And I was basking in a never before glory. 

The pain started to subside after a few days, and unfortunately, so did the glory and the noise around my achievement. Sounds familiar?

A week later, emptiness was slowly starting to take over me. 

"What next man?" exclaimed my coach, when I shared my race results with him.

"Well, I haven't thought through it." I responded.

"Then think it through. You have the potential. Tell me what you want to target next, and we will work accordingly." He said - happy with his results from my half marathon run.

"OK, let me think."

The next day, while listening to the audio book "No Limits" by Michael Phelps (the biggest swimmer and Olympic Champion the world has ever seen) - I made a new goal.

I wanted to be # 1 in my age category (40 ~ 45 years) run in another years time. There were no limits to the human potential. I shared this goal with my coach, who felt proud on my ability to think big. He took some rudimentary information from me and told me that he would come back with a plan to achieve this within a week's time. 

Anxious, charged up, and eager to do something big, I decided to run the fastest 5Km run I have ever ran, that night. I went to the park and gave it all I had. I clocked the fastest 5K ever, but in this quest for speed, I was obviously tired and completely exhausted - much more than what I was, when I ran 21 K in the Half Marathon just a week back.

When I came home all sweating, and that too on a chilling Delhi evening, my spouse, who happens to be my intellectual companion, just remarked casually, 
"What for are you doing all this?"

I did not respond. Rather, I thought to myself:
"She will not understand. She will never understand." 

But somehow, that question reverberated in my mind.
"What for? What for am I trying to sweat and slog and spend time away from my family?" I thought.

I did not have a clear answer. Lucky that my ego did not come in my way that day.

"I don't know why I am doing all this." I remarked.

"Well, then let's get into a frank debate" she remarked. 

We are used to such open hearted debates quite often and that's why having an intellectual companion truly helps you master the intricate skills of life.
Your intellectual companion need not be your spouse, but anyone you can trust. The person should be a good reader of you. His or her success lies in making you successful. ~ Dream On
"I am probably doing all this because I am looking for fame, appreciation - may be - also probably because this improves my fitness." I remarked.

"Yes, fitness is very important. So, a routine regular 2-3 Km run or jog is very essential for our health..But being # 1...Does that actually make you fitter?" pat came the response.

"Right, it's not only fitness, perhaps it makes me mentally stronger..You know these long distance runs are mental games." I clarified and defended my stance.

"I understand that, but at what cost - what if it takes away your family time, increases pressure on you, gives you less time to play with your kids and so on..is it really worth it?" We were getting deeper into the discussion.

"Hmm..Not sure...Maybe you are right...I don't know why else I am taking all this pain, and struggle?" I was not sure.

"I think it is primarily the fame and appreciation that drives us, and there is nothing wrong in that...as long as we are fully enjoying the intervening period between today and the day you attempt the next marathon. Remember that the intervening period will have no appreciation or fame or recognition for you. If you can still enjoy the act of moving towards a goal - then it's fine, But if the intervening period takes away all your time, puts you unders stress, takes away your today's happiness - then the bigger question to ask is what is more important :
   Every day's silent un-appreciating happiness is more important or 
   Momentary glory and success...
Because the moment you become # 1, a week after that - the next question would be - What next?? This cycle has to end somewhere..." 
She sounded convincing.

And I learnt a few lessons of life. When one is going from Delhi to Kashmir (a beautiful destination), the more beautiful aspect of it is enjoying the journey while one is travelling towards Kashmir. Enjoying our today is vital- even more vital than achieving anything extraordinary. And i say this for the following reasons:
1. We may or may not be able to achieve the extraordinary that we are aiming for - and that's just practical. Results are not always in our hands.
2. Even if we achieve the extraordinary, the happiness and satisfaction is always very short lived.
3. If we learn to enjoy every moment of the journey (irrespective of the result) for having the guts to make an attempt towards an extraordinary journey, we will have many more moments of happiness than otherwise.
4. Happiness is all we want as the end product of all our endeavours.
Happiness is always in the present - neither in the past, nor in the future !! ~ Happiness Unlimited
Today, right now is when one should be happy - not on the achievement of the result. Yes, we got to have dreams and goals - because we want a worthwhile journey towards a great destination - but the art is in enjoying while we are on the journey and has hardly anything to do with whether we finally achieve the goal or our dream.

As they say, Life is happening to us right now, it will not happen in future. It is right here, right now. 
And Life usually happens to us while we are planning and striving for all our goals and dreams. So, do keep an eye on your dreams but the crux is in loving your path towards that dream - at this very moment.

As I thought through this discussion, I planned not for the fastest 5K run the next day - but the happiest 5K run - I want to enjoy every Km, every meter, every single step of the 5K run - and I am sure everything else is secondary.

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The book Happiness Unlimited shows you many such lessons to lead a happier, contented life.

Cheers

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